Jail (more photos, videos, songs)
Neil, how was the whole experience of spending time inside a jail?
I am pretty sure that someone must be telling you this for the first time that my experience in jail was pretty good and I had a good time there but yes keeping the jokes part aside, after having done this film, Jail, I have learnt a lot. Whatever queries I had in mind before doing this film have now been solved and now I have got answers to all. I am pretty sure that almost 80 per cent of the population must be under the impression that we can never go to jail but the fact remains that anyone can go to jail and I would like everyone to come to theatres and see this film so that they get to see that what actually happens behind those four walls.
Most of Madhur Bhandarkar′s films are rooted in reality, so following the same pattern did you research on anything, which could be like visiting a jail or anything as part of preparation for the role?
Well some 70 per cent of the film is rooted in facts while the rest is fiction. Most of Madhur′s films are basically mirrors to the society and they don′t try to preach or educate anyone. He shows things as they are in his films and Jail too follows a similar pattern. I had to do a lot of preparation for my role. If I were to keep aside the physical preparation part, the mental preparation part took a lot of time for me. We all are common people and everyone is leading a normal life. We do work from nine to five and then go back home and here too the central character of the film Parag Dixit is like any other common man. Then one fine day because of certain circumstances he is put behind the bars, so to prepare this whole traumatic transition phase took a lot of time for me. I would like to add here that the whole team had gone to Thane jail and I had gone to a jail for the first time before the shooting of the film started. Then later I was given many files and case studies by Madhur Sir to go through, which really helped me. It made me aware of the system and how things are managed inside. After going through all that he had given me, I requested him to shoot the film in a chronological order so that the character of Parag, which I am portraying in this film, goes through all the transformation process step by step. I personally feel that we all are Parag in one way or the other and the whole point here is that you have to relate with this character and not with Neil Nitin Mukesh. I actually wanted to remove that term called acting from this very character. I only want people to feel Parag through this film and relate with his journey in the film.
All the characters you have portrayed in your films so far have surely left an impact on the audiences, so is it a conscious effort on your part to choose your scripts carefully?
Yes, you are right. From day one I have always tried to maintain this thing. If you have seen Johnny Gaddar or Aa Dekhen Zara or New York and now Jail, then you would have realized by now that I love character-oriented roles. I feel that films are basically larger than life medium and if you want to make them memorable in today′s times then the sure shot method is to make the characters of those films very strong. Still people come up to me and say that Hey Johnny, whats up? Today also people remember the characters of Sheshadri, Shardul - these are such characters, which you will never forget. Similarly Maya, Omar and Sam from New York, these are such characters which you will always remember. Yes, I can say this that it′s surely a conscious decision. I believe in the saying that it′s not the length of the role, but it′s the strength of the role that really matters.
Judging by the fact that Jail is a Madhur Bhandarkar film, can I safely say this that it guarantees a national award for you next year?
You have put me in tension with this question. Who does not want an award that recognizes his or her acting prowess? It′s a matter of pride for any actor to be given an award; it′s same as putting petrol in your car so that engine runs smooth and fast. At this stage I can only hope that people like and appreciate this film. As far as awards are concerned, we have a jury for it, which is authorized to take decisions and choose the winners. If I get it then I will surely be happy.
Your nude scene in the film is much talked about, please tell us more?
The nude scene in the film is a very important and integral part of the film. It′s a process that cannot be eliminated from the film. It′s a film, which has been made in a very realistic manner, and we have shown only those things that happen in real life. Yes, that scene had created some controversy, as it was for the first time that an actor in Indian cinema was doing a nude scene. It also met few objections from the censor board - they wanted the scene to be blurred. Let me add here that no scenes from the film has been deleted, it′s the same that we had shot and edited. Even with the blurred thing, the impact is still the same. The whole scene is so powerful that people at that time won′t be looking at the body of Neil Mukesh but they will feel the mental stress and mental level of Parag Dixit. And if this thing is not coming out form the film then it means that the character is not Parag but it′s Neil Nitin Mukesh. It′s a guarantee from my side that no one will come out with the expression that Oh God, what is being showed! You will relate with the mental and emotional stress of the character. It′s not that we shot this scene deliberately and wanted to gain some cheap publicity out of it. Publicity is such a thing that comes out automatically, especially in this case. We have got U/A certificate for this film, which is pretty good, as we want a very large section of audience to come and see this film. I want this film to be seen by people from all age group. I can say this with conviction that after having worked in this film, I have developed some sort of responsibility and maturity, which gives more respect to life. Everyone knows this that your life can change in one moment. I only want the youth of this country to come and see this film, they will learn a lot from this film. Even if the censor board had given A certificate to the film, I am pretty sure that it would not have affected the fate of the film.
Neil Nitin Mukesh (more photos on gallery)
Were you afraid of your near and dear ones after Madhur narrated the scene to you?
When Madhur Sir had offered this film to me, then I was sure from that day itself that I will do anything as per the film′s requirement. When he told me about the scene then at time all my attention was focussed on Parag′s character and was thinking as per his mental state. I am not showing my six-pack abs, biceps or shoulders to the audiences and if a person were to show all these things then that character is not Parag Dixit. I would like people to see Parag. He is a common man and he has no time to go to gym and work out. When I had come back to India after finishing New York, I was in my best shape and had rippling muscles; everything was in shape for me. At that time I was about to shoot a song for Aa Dekhen Zara and was supposed to show my body and when I met him he told me that I wouldn′t look like Parag. Then I lost some 7 kilogram of weight in a period of one month and concentrated especially on getting rid of my muscle mass. It would have been difficult for people to connect with a muscular body. As far as my parents are concerned, it did strike me but I got my answer then and there itself. I was confident of the fact that if a director of the caliber of Madhur is handling the scene, then he will do full justice to it. I was sure that if my parents were to see the film then they wouldn′t be ashamed of anything. They will feel proud that their son has done such a film.
Lastly, your family shares a very close relationship with Lata Didi and she has sung a beautiful number for this film, please tell us something about your association with Lata Didi?
Actually 26 years back, it was Lata Didi who had named me. It was she who gave me my name, she had come to my home for the naming ceremony and my father had chosen three names for me and she picked up Neil for me. According to her, I looked like a foreign baby or more like an American kid. At that point of time my father had told her that hope Neil become an actor when he grows up and I was only one year old at that point of time. 26 years later, in a way it has created history that I became an actor and she has sung a song for this film. It was just unbelievable as it completes a full cycle. In a way I think it′s a big blessing and her presence in this film brings a lot of piousness to this film. She is like a cherry on the entire film. A song sung by Lata Didi cannot be sung by anybody, for me that song is really special.
Thanks a lot.